Roxana is another good example of a Romanian who follows her passion, and makes a career out of it: her field of expertise revolves around green energy, environmental issues and protecting the nature. Nowadays, she takes care of all these areas at the headquarters of the biggest Hungarian multinational oil & gas company, which is definitely a diverse challenge, a matter of life and death as she puts it. Let’s see how it’s like for a Romanian to perform in Budapest!
Name: Roxana Suciu
Abroad since: 2013
Living in: Budapest HUN
Current position & company: Senior Environmental Expert, MOL Group
TGR: Roxana, how's life in Budapest? Is it so much different than Bucharest?
RS: Budapest is considered one of the most beautiful city in Europe and I have to say that I very much enjoy being here! The city has something to offer for everyone – Buda side is more quiet, green hilly area and even natural reserves such as forests and caves may be found here for those who are closer to nature. Pest is for party goers, fashion addicted and tourists. In addition to this, the cultural life is very vibrant and there is a very nice community spirit, with events taking place every weekend in all the neighborhoods – you just have to have the patience to discover them and the energy to enjoy them.
The city is constantly developing – since I moved here I have seen incredible public transportation and biking infrastructure development, the green areas are continuously expanded and maintained, old industrial sites are developed into community places – here it is a lot about the comfort of the inhabitants of the city and how to attract visitors.
Hungarian is a tough language – did you manage to learn it or you actually don’t need it?
I would not say that Hungarian language is more difficult as compared to other ones – I would say that a language is as difficult as the effort you put into learning it. If you do not put enough effort you will find the excuse that the language is difficult, if you really want to do it and you have fun doing it, it is easy.
Although I am here since 2013, I have to admit I can only manage easy things like ordering a coffee or paying the bills or filling in some simple forms – so I did not put enough effort into learning it . But there is a good chance to find Romanian or English speaking counterparts all over the city so in this sense there was no real pressure to learn the language. In addition to this, we made some very good Hungarian friends and they are helping us a lot where we cannot manage.
I guess after 4 years in Budapest, you can call yourself at home. Do you find anything disappointing in the day-to-day life?
I think one advantage of being an expat in any country and not fully understand the language is that you are somehow isolated from negative feelings. Therefore, I am getting the feeling that I am on a long holiday here and usually you are not getting disappointed during your holiday!
How are the Hungarian people? Was it difficult to adjust to their life style and habits?
Hungarian people are very nice, friendly and ready to help. I remember once I was in trouble at the Post office because of the language issue, and immediately someone from the queue offered assistance. They are much calmer than us and tend to be more talkative – one thing that I had to learn was to be patient at the market because each client is treated as a friend by the seller and they tent to engage in never-ending discussions. Buying vegetable and fruits is transformed into an experience – it is not just a chorus.
Hungarians are much closer to nature and somehow the community spirit is more developed than in Romania – for example they will maintain green spaces around their buildings and would not expect the city hall to clean their yards. On the first street that I lived in Budapest, there was no cleaning provided by the city hall – the people were doing it by rotation.
What’s your main responsibility at the job?
Being part of the Group Sustainable Development and HSE Team, my role is to lead our activities towards more sustainable, environmental friendly practices. I have to develop our environmental strategy, manage the professional aspects related to environmental stewardship of all activities in MOL Group, and come up with creative program ideas for the protection of the environment. I do not have time to get bored as our activities are very diverse!
Can you tell me something only you can do in the company?
I would not go that far to say that I am unique in the company! I am part of a very good team, with ambitious and forward thinking people and due to the nature of our work (health, safety and environmental protection) we all aim to do our job to the best standards because after all it’s a matter of life and death in our industry.
How many direct reports do you have?
Due to the structure of the organization, I do not have direct reports but rather counterparts. MOL Group is present in 40 countries and all the environmental managers are my counterparts.
I see, so being the one environmental expert actually makes you rather unique at MOL HQ – and the most privileged within your worldwide team! What can you tell me about your colleagues in Hungary?
About 25% of the MOL Group HQ people are internationals. So, by looking at this percentage you may say that I am getting more frequent contact with local colleagues. This is true just to some extent as my job requires me to be as much as possible out and in contact with the colleagues from the field – so I am getting in contact with a lot of nationalities – business leaders, site managers etc.
You have built your entire career around the energy and environment sector. Which is the accomplishment you’re mostly proud of?
I think I am very lucky to have chosen this career when I was 16 years old after reading a book about chimpanzees, and stick with it for more than 17 years! So this is perhaps an accomplishment in itself.
But I have very fond memories about a lot of things that I have done: from being part of the team that put the basis of the first Romanian Geopark (Hateg Dinosaurus Geopark), to installing modern heating system in few schools in the Maramures National Park, from working in a very high level team in New York at the United Nation developing programs for Europe and CIS countries to providing consultancy advice for building one of the first biogas plant in Romania. The truth is that I love what I am doing and this is, I think, very fortunate!
How often do you travel to Romania?
I am not coming very often to Bucharest. In the speed era, it is actually not so easy to commute between these two cities. The road trip would take about 10 hours, the train trip can take anything between 12 and 18 hours and till recently, even the plane solution was not the best in the absence of a competition between the operators on this route. So I can reach Vienna in under 3 hours, I can reach the Croatian coast in about 5 hours but it takes more to come to Bucharest.
What do you mostly miss about Romania?
This is not my first experience of living abroad so I am kind of get used to not miss things from home. At the beginning, you do miss some things from your home country and perhaps you get the so called “home sickness” but in time, these feelings are disappearing. I would probably mention just one thing - ‘telemea’ cheese that for some reasons is not available in Hungary.
Do you see yourself moving back? What could convince you?
This is a tough question and some smart guy said once that “never says never”. I would say “no” if you are asking me now but life is not always as you plan. What will convince me? Most probably, when I will see a long term plan for the development of the country implemented and followed by all state institutions, based on concrete objectives, with the associated budget and with results, I would consider. Or perhaps when I will see no car parked on the pedestrian ways in Bucharest and people respecting each other. It might be too long term though.
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
I am always telling foreigners that Romania is a beautiful country, with some cities that are like jewelries (Sighisoara, Brasov, Sibiu) and wild natural reserves that are worth at least a visit.
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest dream right now is to find a nice place where to open a small B&B (preferably by the seaside somewhere in Greece, Portugal, UK or who knows where) in a couple of years from now and enjoy a relaxed life close to the nature.
Any final remarks regarding our home country?
By the nature of my work, I have lived aboard in several occasion but I always wanted to come back to Romania, until one point (I remember very clearly that is was summer of 2009) when I decided that some of the things from the Romanian society are just too wrong and I have to pay my taxes elsewhere and get decent public services in exchange.
But I still hope, somewhere deep inside me, that Romania will succeed to find its way at some point in time. I just do not know if I will live enough to see/enjoy this!
Well, Roxana, since I’ve embarked this mission I have learned to look more often at the positive side. Every country has its downsize, not only Romania, and we have plenty of beautiful things to talk about. Your career and accomplishments are a perfect example, and I thank you for sharing them on The Golden Romania platform!
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